Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What DO you call it?

Okay, you've been warned. I wrote this when I was tired and cranky. I think I made sense at the beginning, but it goes downhill...and then I get rambly...sorry...I'm not even sure I ever got to the point.

Somewhere along the information highway today I clicked on something that led me to something that led me to an article called "Married Single Mom." Charlotte Latvala over at Parenting.com wrote the article about her life as a mom to three kids and wife to husband with his own business that keeps him away from home for hours and hours every day.

I read the article and chuckled a bit and nodded in agreement and thought, wow, I sort of see my life. Sort of. But the title kind of bugged me.

I quickly forgot the title when I saw the mudslinging in the comments: single moms who were offended by a married woman using the words "single mom;" others, married or not, who seem to be offended by single moms. All kinds of assumptions. Like married women have it easy. That stay-at-home moms have the "princess shift." That married women have no financial concerns because they have working husbands. That married women can have "me time" whenever they want because their husbands will take their kids. That single moms get a break a few times a week or month (depending on arrangements) when the kids go to dads. That single moms do the jobs of dads, even if the dad is in the picture.

I don't understand these Mommy (and Daddy) wars. There was an essay in the Globe and Mail a few weeks ago by a single dad and the comment section was full of people accusing him of not being a *SINGLE* dad because he shared custody with his son's mother.

Why the hate??? WHY????

Everyone has a different situation, shouldn't we be supportive of each other, regardless of the situation? I know a couple of single moms. Some of them struggle to make ends meet, their children's fathers don't pay child support on time, or at all, the fathers don't show up when they're supposed to etc etc etc. I also know a couple who are financially well off, who have marvellous relationships with the children's fathers. But I also know married couples who worry about how they're going to get dinner on the table tomorrow and others who worry about how they're going to choose between a holiday in the Caribbean or in the Mediterranean. Marital status doesn't necessary dictate what a family's financial status will be.

I fall into the same category as Ms. Latvala. But I don't consider myself a Married Single Mom. I'm J's mom and Alex's wife and while I would love it if he was here more, that's not our reality at the moment. But I'm not a Married Single Mom.

I get up every morning just an hour or so after Alex goes to bed. J and I get ready for our day together and commute to the university together. I drop her off at daycare and get myself across campus to my office as quickly as I possibly can so that I can put my hours in and get back across campus as early as possible to pick J up. But it's still usually between 5:15 and 5:30 before we get home. Alex has to leave by 6:30 to go to work. We're still working out our afternoon routine - our schedule has been this way for eight months, but apparently it takes a year or so to really get a routine happening. Most nights I make dinner and ideally J and Alex get some time together. Some nights that doesn't happen for a multitude of reasons, but we try. Often there are tears when Alex leaves. Or some time later in the evening. Or at bedtime. On good nights we're able to eat dinner together before Alex goes. On not so great nights, we don't. I spend the evening with J. We go for a walk or to the park. I do the dishes. I do the laundry. I do bath time. I do story time. I do bedtime. I sweep the floor. I fall into bed exhausted at 10:00 (or 11:30 like tonight) and we do it all over again the next day. Weekends aren't even all ours...Alex doesn't get home until the early hours of Saturday morning, so that's another stolen morning.

There are many reasons this is our life right now. Some of them we can change. Some of them we can't. But we're working on it...but that's how it is at our house right now and I see no reason to defend it or make excuses for it.

So please don't hate me because even though most days I'm the one parenting, solo, and doing a lot of housework, I have husband. Don't hate me because some days it's a struggle, but I have a husband. Don't hate me because some days we worry about bills and finances and future tuition costs and maybe even retirement. Yes, I have a husband. But that doesn't mean I don't have those worries and concerns.

Instead, why not share the things that made you stronger. Maybe they'll help me. Maybe I can share what worked for us. And maybe one of those things might make your life a little easier. Maybe we can swap babysitting. Maybe you know a secret place to get 2 for 1 coupons for a bunch of the products I buy.

Parents, single, married, co-parenting, whatever, all have pretty much the same goal - to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids in the best possible environment. So instead of attacking each other because our family situations aren't the same, why don't we embrace each other and support each other and be kind? Hillary Clinton wrote It Takes a Village and years earlier (just before I was born) my grandmother told my dad that a child is raised by his or her parents with considerable support from their community (community defined by each family...each family's community is going to be different)...and they're right.

I don't know what we'd do without our family and friends to turn to for advice and support, our doctor for not only medical expertise, but helpful suggestions and assistance, community health nurses who not only figured out J wasn't gaining weight when she was tiny, but were also available to listen to my frustrations and fears in a safe and non-judgmental way, and of course our family and friends. Yes. They're there twice because that's the first and last place we (meaning me and Alex) tend to turn when we're stuck. Some of my community lives in the computer. Some of them are single moms. Some are moms with husbands who work somewhere else or work shift work or are unavailable to be full-time parents for some reason. Some are moms who have husbands who are able to share the household responsibilities 50/50. Some are stay-at-home moms or work-at-home moms. Some have nannies. Some haven't had a day away from their kids in months. Some are working moms with stay-at-home husbands. Some are single parents - for a whole bunch of reasons. Some are same-sex couples. We all have our challenges, but I'm ever so grateful that these moms aren't engaged in mommy-warfare...

Maybe you, my community can help me: I'm not sure what I'm called, but I'm still not a single married mom. I think I just want to be called Mom.


  1. Great post! I completely agree with you.

  2. Well said! This whole mommy-daddy-parent wars stuff is such a waste of energy.